Is it fair to say that the majority of traditional car collectors have yet to acknowledge any Japanese cars as “classic”?
Maybe so. But those “traditional” car collectors are missing out.
On Sunday, the same people who put on the Japanese Classic Car Show every year in Southern California held a new event for more modern vehicles. They called it “Japanese Classic Car Show presents: Street Neo Classics ’80s and ’90s car show.”
You may remember the ’80s and ’90s: the rise of the compact disc, the fall of the Berlin Wall, big hair, Madonna …
But there were some nice cars then, too. You could buy a rear-wheel-drive Corolla or a rear-drive 240SX before they became prized as drift project cars. For a little more money, you could buy a twin-turbo Toyota Supra when it was still stock! Same with the third-gen Mazda RX-7. The Miata debuted, too, the Nissan 300ZX peaked and CRX-Sis ruled the racetracks of America.
All that and more was celebrated at the first Street Neo Classics.
“It branched out from the JCCS,” said Terry Yamaguchi, who, along with husband Koji, founded both events.
“JCCS was for pre-1985 cars,” said Koji. “People with ’80s and ’90s cars asked me if they could join in, too.”
And now they can. It’s all part of the evolving interest in collector cars from Japan.
“We’re seeing a new generation of enthusiasts, those who grew up with Toyotas, Nissans and Hondas,” said Ben Hsu, founder of japanesenostalgiccar.com. “The cars I grew up lusting after were Nissan GT-Rs and Toyota Supras.”
As if to illustrate his point, Hot Wheels designer Ryu Asada was signing hero cards in the Japanese Nostalgic Car booth, with a line stretching down the aisle.
“Up until a couple of years ago, Hot Wheels were all about muscle cars,” said Hsu. “Then Ryu started designing cars like the NSX. Now there are at least 20 or 25 Japanese cars, and they fly off the shelves.”
About 200 cars registered for the show, and of those 160 showed up (there had been a slight drizzle of rain Sunday morning, and a lot of owners didn’t want to risk dinging their cars on the slippery freeways). At least that many more spilled over into surrounding parking lots. There wasn’t a dull car anywhere.
Check out the gallery above to see some of our favorites. And start planning now for next year’s show.